Yantra

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Yantra literally means ‘that which holds and protects’.

In ritualistic practices, yantras have an important place. Originally, the word yantra meant a machine or a contrivance. But in the tāntrik literature, it assumed an entirely different connotation. It stood for a mystical diagram that would help the sādhaka or spiritual aspirant to control his six passions and thus protect him.[1]

Shape of Yantra

A yantra is a geometrical diagram engraved on a plate of gold, silver or copper. It may be drawn on a bhurja leaf[2] also. It represents different deities of the pantheon having different yantras.

Usage of Yantra

A yantra has to be consecrated first with appropriate rites. This is called sanskāra. It can then be used in worship. Different kinds of usage of yantras are as follows:

  • During the worship, the yantra can be used along with the image of the deity or a kalaśa[3] into which the deity has been invoked.
  • In tāntrik rites, the yantra was used for satkarmas or six kinds of results. They are:
  1. Vaśīkaraṇa - controlling a person
  2. Stambhana - making one immobile
  3. Vidveṣaṇa - hating
  4. Uccāṭana - expelling
  5. Māraṇa - killing
  6. Śāntikapauṣṭika - for peace and nourishment
  • A yantra drawn on bits of paper or bhurja leaves or even thin copper plates and then enclosed in metallic amulets may be worn on the arm or round the neck for specific purposes. They are then called dhāraṇayantras. However one should be careful to see that they are not polluted by coming into contact with the earth or any defiling object like a dead body. They will then lose their power.

Deities and their Yantras

The following table gives a brief account of the yantras of some deities and their effects:

No. Deity Fruits of Yantra
1 Gaṇapati For conferring wealth and prosperity
2 Bhadrakāli For conferring knowledge, strength, health
3 Sudarśana For relieving sickness and driving away evil spirits
4 Sarabha For curing epilepsy
5 Subrahmaṇya For expelling evil spirits
6 Hanumān For attaining strength, safety in travel
7 Cāmuṇḍā To cause the death of enemies

Longevity of Yantra

In regards to the retention of the power induced in a yantra, the following chart gives an idea:

Yantra inscribed on Duration
Gold plate Whole life
Silver plate Twenty years
Bhurja leaves Twelve years
Copper plate Six years


References

  1. Here tra means to protect.
  2. It is a kind of birch.
  3. Kalaśa means sacred water-pot.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore